Disney Enters Into Multiyear Partnership With Translation

They've already collaborated on a State Farm ad around ESPN's The Last Dance

Disney Ad Sales is teaming up with marketing firm Translation for a multiyear partnership designed to help brands reach diverse audiences with culturally relevant advertising.

Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales and partnerships at Disney, and Translation founder and CEO Steve Stoute wrote about the partnership in an open letter, titled It’s Time: What’s Possible When Culture and Innovation Collide, describing it as an opportunity to address “widespread calls for diversity and more equal representation in every sector of the entertainment business.”

“With customized solutions that appeal to and respect a more diverse audience, we can turn a lack of results on its head and into a return on investment in a way that no other partnership can. We understand that diverse communities have more influence, more cultural impact and make more of an economic contribution than ever before,” Ferro and Stoute wrote in the letter.

Ferro told Adweek that Disney and Translation began initial conversations with brands about a collaboration at CES and realized from the reaction that there was a big opportunity. She said the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the announcement by several months.

“It’s never really made more sense than now to accelerate the work that started six months ago,” she said.

“We’re not doing it as response to a social movement,” Stoute explained. “We’re doing it because we understood that ethnic markets were underserved [and the opportunities that were available if] we capture hearts and minds with culture as a way in.”

Translation has worked with the NBA for over five years, and last year picked up creative for AT&T’s NBA partnership. The agency has also worked with NBA teams the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. This year, 1800 Tequila also named Translation as its creative agency of record.

“For 15 years, Translation has been doing [multicultural marketing]. It’s not until you get an opportunity to work with a partner such as Disney that you get a chance to really get that scale,” Stoute added, comparing it to going from performing off-Broadway to a crowd at Madison Square Garden.

We’ve already gotten a taste of the fruits of the collaboration, via CreativeWorks and Translation’s ad for State Farm during ESPN’s The Last Dance, a project that Ferro said quickly displayed the kind of impact the collaboration can drive. State Farm also helped bring the two parties together initially, through close relationships with both Disney and Translation.

“When people saw State Farm,” Ferro said, “they said, ‘I want to do that.’ We have shown very quickly what kind of impact we can drive.”

Translation and Disney hope to provide a resource for brands attempting to reach diverse, young audiences, something Ferro and Stoute said will help provide new opportunities for business growth.

“We need a moment for the industry to [realize] African Americans and Latinos are underserved audiences in America,” Stoute said. “We knew that instinctually already. If you’re doing it just for the social credit, you’re missing out on an opportunity. Diversity is great for business. If you have a diversity problem, you have a youth problem.”

Ferro explained that she was currently touting the offering to CMOs across the country and explained that while the initial focus has been on creative driving cultural conversations, there’s a further opportunity to delve into custom research in different marketplaces, as well as new ad products and solutions.

“This is the beginning of a long journey,” Stoute said. “Think of every mainstream metric and application and apply a version of that, driven first and foremost by culture and diversity, [to] create something that will fundamentally shift the industry.”

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.